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30 Aug

Why you need to book a ticket to Panama

After my Panama vacation, I received lots of questions on Facebook and promised I’ll do a post about my recent beautiful experience in this country and about my first trip there also. That was last year, in 2015. If Panama is on your travel list, hope this tips will help.

As a first tip, it would be ideal if you visit the country at the end of May – beginning of June, for two reasons. Plane tickets are cheaper, from Bucharest with Turkish Airlines it is about 480 euro and with KLM 520 euros, and you avoid the rain season also. True, it is quite awesome to go during winter holidays but the tickets are quite expensive.

Also, I recommend you rent a car and make the most of the trip. We did this and it was a great decision. If you can, go for a terrain one. The prices are ok, the insurance is bit expensive, more that the rent fee itself. Don’t go for a high end car because it doesn’t worth it, especially if you are on a tight budget.

Start with a tour of Panama City, so you can get used to the locals and let me tell you that their style isn’t like the European one. If you aren’t open minded, to explore, you might not be pleased. I went for the landscapes, for something new and I loved it. I would go back anytime, visited twice, so there’s your proof.

Photography by Rares Pulbere

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Don’t miss Casco Viejo, the historic centre of Panama City which is constantly changing. In 1977 it was appointed World Heritage Site by Unesco. After a couple of flourishing periods, it was attacked by pirates, it was a gang headquarter and it is an remodelling period. If you have the budget for it, stay at least a night at the American Trade Hotel, it is the most beautiful and central hotel. The ground floor features a cafe that has many coffee specialities, one of those being Gheisa, one of the rarest types in the world. Unfortunately, I was only passing through.

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The best place to eat, drink #coffee and also a place with a great story. <3

A photo posted by Carmen Negoita (@carmennegoita) on

Also in Panama City , go see the Panama Canal and take a tour. The canal was a great engineering project, which helped enormously the navigation and it is the point where most goods go through. Moreover, the  port city of Colon is a Free Trade Zone and from what my friends are saying you can buy many things there at great prices. Unfortunately I didn’t visit it yet, but I would not go there without a local, because the area is not the safest. If you go, go with only small bills.

The oldest road bridge over the Panama Canal is Puente las Americas, which you will definitely cross on your way to the north west of the country.

After a full day of driving stop for 2-3 days at Venao beach. I stayed at Selina Hostels, a very modern chain of hostels. It is small corner of civilisation, away from the world where you can do surf, paddeling or simply linger at their beach or explore pristine beaches in the area. On the way to La Playa there are many monkeys.

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At and hour drive you’ll find the Andromeda Complex, where’s a Beach Club, Los Vientos, with a gorgeous pool, restaurant, and many other activities. Also the town of Pedasi in the area is quite picturesque.

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Last year, around the same area I visited the Catalina beach, I read that it is an important beach for surfers, but frankly I was not impressed. I never got to see the island of Coiba, starting from the port of Mutis. Arrived a little late in port, to our sorrow.

The next point of interest is the Baru Volcano, the highest point in Panama, but before you go up there I recommend a detour to eat, or to stay for one day if you have time to Las Lajas Beach Resort. I suntanned with iguanas and saw one of the most beautiful sunsets. The food is not healthy, but does it matter? ☺ On holiday the calories don’t count.

This day ends with this amazing view!

A photo posted by Carmen Negoita (@carmennegoita) on

On the way to the Volcano you have two paths. One by Boquette where you can go rafting, tour coffee plantations and trails on foot or by car to the top of the volcano. By Cerro Punta there are beautiful landscapes and I recommend you to stay at Los Quetzales Ecolodge and Spa, the only place where I was cold (except for the top of the volcano). Pack warm clothes, because the don’t have heating and I didn’t know what to layer. Otherwise the place is very eco friendly and you can do many things in the are. I went to see Finca Dracula and no, there’s no connection to our Dracula. The name comes from a species of orchids that grow there. In fact the whole farm houses over 2,200 species of orchids from Central and South America. The whole area is part of the National Parque Amistad, a Unesco heritage.

To climb the volcano you have the daring option to leave on foot in the evening and arrive at sunrise. But do not do this alone because there are cougars in the woods. I met some crazy Londoners who survived but were nearly frozen and we took them in our car. We chose the safe way with a jeep with huge wheels, in which you will feel like in a carousel. Slow, but a carousel on the huge stones, which the car escalates. If you take the 4 am tour you catch the sunrise on the highest point in Panama.

And after all the adrenaline and cold weather it is time for the beach….but that, in the next post of the Panama Series.

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Dupa vacanta din Panama, am primit foarte multe intrebari pe Facebook si am promis ca voi scrie un post despre experienta frumoasa de anul acesta, dar si despre prima mea excursie acolo, in 2015.  Daca Panama este pe lista destinatiilor voastre de vacanta sper ca aceste cateva sfaturi sa va fie de ajutor.  

Asa ca un prim sfat, ideal ar fi sa mergeti la sfarsitul lunii mai – inceputul lunii iunie, din doua motive. Biletele de avion sunt mult mai ieftine, Turkish – aproximativ 480 euro & KLM 520 euro, dar si evitati sezonul ploios. Intr-adevar, este foarte fain sa mergeti in perioada sarbatorilor de iarna, dar biletele sunt mult mai scumpe.

De asemenea, va recomand sa inchiriati o masina si va bucurati cat mai mult de aceasta tara. Noi asta am facut si a fost o decizie foarte buna. Daca puteti, inchiriati una de teren. Preturile sunt foarte ok, asigurarea costa mai mult decat inchirierea in sine. Nu va aruncati la o categorie superioara ca nu prea merita, mai ales daca sunteti on a budget.

Incepeti cu un tur de Panama City, asa ca sa va obisnuiti cu stilul localnicilor si va previn ca nu seamana deloc cu stilul european. Daca nu plecati cu mintea deschisa, sa explorati s-ar putea sa nu fiti incantati. Eu am mers pentru peisaje, pentru nou si am fost foarte incantata. M-as intoarce oricand, drept dovada ca am fost deja de 2 ori.

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Nu trebuie sa ratati Casco Viejo, centrul istoric al Panama City, care este intr-o continua schimbare. In 1977 a fost desemnat de Unesco, World Heritage Site. Dupa ce a cunoscut perioade infloritoare, a fost atacat de pirati, a fost sediul bandelor, dar acum este in perioada de remodelare. Daca bugetul va permite, va recomand sa stati macar o noapte la American Trade Hotel, cel mai frumos si central hotel. La parter are o cafenea cu specialitati, printre care si Gheisa, una din cele mai rare tipuri de cafea. Din pacate eu am fost numai in trecere prin el.

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Tot in Panama City mergeti sa vedeti canalul Panama si chiar sa faceti un tur.  Canalul a fost cea mai mare lucrare inginereasca, care a ajutat enorm domeniul navigatiei si este punctul prin care se tranziteaza cele mai multe marfuri. De altfel, Colon un oras portuar este Free Trade Zone si din ce spun prietenii mei gasesti acolo cam tot ce vrei la preturi foarte bune. Din pacate nu am ajuns inca, dar nici nu m-as avanta sa merg fara un localnic, pentru ca zona nu este cea mai sigura. Daca ajungeti incercati sa aveti bacnote mici si sa nu fluturati prea multi bani.

Cel mai vechi pod rutier peste canalul Panama este Puente las Americas, peste care treceti cu siguranta in drumul vostru spre nord-vestul tarii. 

Dupa o zi intreaga de mers faceti o oprire de 2 – 3 zile in plaja Venao. Eu am stat la Selina Hostels, un lant de hosteluri foarte modern. Este un mic colt de civilizatie, rupt de lume, unde puteti sa faceti cursuri de surf, paddeling sau sa leneviti la plaja lor sau sa explorati plajele virgine din zona. In drum spre La Playita sunt si foarte multe maimute.

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La aproximativ o ora cu masina se afla complexul Andromeda, in cadrul caruia este un Beach Club, Los Vientos, cu o piscina superba, restaurant, dar si multe alte activitati. De asemenea oraselul Pedasi din zona este destul de pitoresc.

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Anul trecut, aproximativ in aceeasi zona am vizitat plaja Catalina, despre care citisem ca este una din plajele importante pentru surferi, dar sincer nu am fost impresionata. Nu am apucat insa sa vad insula Coiba, care pleaca din portul Mutis. Am ajuns putin cam tarziu in port, spre supararea noastra.

Urmatorul punct de inters este Vulcanul Baru, cel mai inalt punct din Panama, dar pana acolo va recomand un mic ocol sa manacati, sau sa stati o zi daca aveti timp la Las Lajas Beach Resort. Am facut plaja cu iguane si am vazut unul dintre cele mai frumoase apusuri de soare. Mancarea nu este cea mai healthy, dar ce conteaza? In vacanta nu se pune ☺.

This day ends with this amazing view!

A photo posted by Carmen Negoita (@carmennegoita) on

In drum spre Vulcan aveti 2 variante de mers. Una catre Boquette, unde puteti face rafting, tururi pe plantatiile de cafea si trasee pe jos sau cu masina catre varful vulcanului. Catre Cerro Punta este un peisaj superb si va recomand sa stati la Los Quetzales Ecolodge and Spa, singurul loc unde mi-a fost frig (in afara de varful vulcanului). Si sa va luati haine groase, pentru ca nu au nici un fel de incalzire, iar eu nu mai stiam ce sa mai pun pe mine. In rest locul este deosebit, eco friendly, iar in zona puteti sa faceti foarte multe lucruri. Eu am fost sa vad Finca Dracula si nu are nici o legatura cu Dracula al nostru. Numele vine de la o specie de orhidee, pe care o cresc acolo. De fapt toata ferma adaposteste peste 2200 de specii de orhidee din America Centrala si de Sud. Toata zona face parte din Parque National la Amistad, un patrimoniu Unesco.

Ca sa urcati pe Vulcan aveti optiunea indrazneata sa plecati pe jos seara si sa ajungeti la rasarit. Dar nu faceti asta singuri pentru ca in padure sunt pume. Am cunoscut niste londonezi nebuni, care au scapat cu viata, dar erau aproape inghetati si au coborat cu noi cu masina. Noi am ales varianta safe cu o masina de teren, cu roti imense, in care o sa va simtiti putin ca intr-un carusel. Lent ce e drept, dar carusel pe pietrele imense, pe care le escaladeaza. Daca luati turul de la 4 dimineata prindeti rasaritul pe cel mai inalt punct din Panama.

Si dupa atata adrenalina si frig este cazul sa ne indreptam catre plaja… dar despre asta in articolul urmator din seria despre Panama.

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